customer persona templates

Marketing personas lack one big thing

Working with a client who needs to develop customer personas, I did some research and found a load of good articles on how to write a customer persona [links all at the bottom of this page].

So far so good.

but on closer reading it’s clear they are all copying each other.

Content Marketing needs quality control

As I read the articles – many by reputable brands like Buffer, Hubspot, Sprout Social – it was clear that when searching for illustrations they had all culled the same images off Google. Over and over.

The authority of the article was not in doubt. They write clearly and the instruction was good quality for beginner marketers who have never created a customer persona before.

More and more blogs and experts are recommending writing fewer articles and making them longer as well as more niche.

The medium evolves [as I shared this week about Instagram videos] and staying alert to new trends is important for B2B Marketers.

But surely brands could actually show some content images which they had created?

The articles looked “bitty” as a result as the templated personas were all laid out differently and were of varying image quality, never mind what the persona description actually was. I thought they were light in quality.

customer persona templates

templated personas copied and reproduced

 

 

How to Create B2B Customer Personas

Some articles for you to read
Digital marketing 2021

The Bigger Picture of Digital Marketing in 2021

I have a good website and products.  My social media marketing is not resulting in sales.  Do I need a media expert?

Analyse past sales patterns

My view is that whether your social media drives sales or not depends on your industry and your target audience.

For the vast majority of businesses, social media does not result in direct sales. This is because customers are not in “buying mode” when browsing social sites.

And so here’s a quick check which you can do – share it here as well if you want more feedback.

  1. List all the sales you made in the past month(s)
  2. Rank them by value highest $ down to lowest
  3. For the top 20% by value, write down against each one how the customer came to buy from you
  4. Is there a pattern?

So for example in (3) above – you might say they came from your mailing list, they might be a previous customer, word of mouth recommendation, or walked into your shop or know a staff member.

It may pay to do some follow up calls if you can – or to ask every January 2021 customer how they found out about you and see if the pattern develops in the same way.

Know your customers

From this, you will begin to learn more about your existing customer base. What their patterns of behaviour are and how your business gets its sales.

Now, if you think this type of customer ALSO uses social and might be persuaded to buy from you via that channel, this is the time to review your marketing strategy and see if social media could bring you sales.

The Bigger Picture of Digital Marketing in 2021

Three things for you to check first

The vast majority of social “sales” come from paid advertising or retail shop listings on social sites. So you need to review your margins and your advertising budget for 2021 in your marketing strategy before deciding to launch into social media marketing in a big way. Can you afford to both hire a social media marketing expert and buy advertising on social? Or would your money be better spent on the channels you already have which bring in customers from your analysis in the steps 1-4 above.

Content marketing is more than just “social media”. The things you are posting on your social channels could also be put to use in newsletters, website blogs and in-store. So don’t only talk about social media – go broader to review whether content marketing is right for your business.

Consult experts to get yourself quickly up the learning curve. BUT be cautious about hiring people who have worked in big enterprise firms – a client of mine got badly burned using an expert who just spent a lot of money with only $800 return for their multi-month investment in their services. Yes they did take up references – and you should too. Become an expert in how to brief a marketing agency first – this will clarify what they do and set expectations. Below are links to articles which you should read first.

https://creativeagencysecrets.com/tag/how-to-brief-a-freelancer/

Rebecca Caroe Quora profile

Using Wikipedia and Quora for marketing

I recently got asked about whether Wikipedia is good for marketing. It’s a high traffic website from where backlinks could be valuable.

If you do create Wikipedia entries be aware that there are rules about businesses on the platform.

The recent history of Marketing on Wikipedia

A lot of PR agencies got publicly burned while trying to promote their clients there.
Which led to Wikipedia publishing this.
And check out the PR institute rules in the UK which followed.

Basically, don’t expect this to be an amazing source of new business.

However, I have an other option to offer you which may work.

Quora expert profile

5 Quora tips for marketing

Answering questions around your topic of expertise and interest and inspiration is definitely somewhere you can shine. It’s not open source, so nobody can edit your submissions and you can get upvoted and become an “expert” on the platform quite quickly.

The key is to start in an established niche where you are confident.
Here are 5 easy tips on writing Quora replies with a marketing slant.

  1. Read all the other answers first and upvote / or reference good parts which you agree with
  2. Then add your own slant which is hopefully something not already mentioned
  3. Find something in your own published content which could be linked from your answer and which adds more detail. This is key because a skim reader won’t follow the link, but someone who is really interested will click to follow and land on your site. So you filter out the tyre kickers quickly.
  4. If you haven’t already got something you can use from your own content write it now. Write it on your website / blog, publish it, and link it inside your Quora answer before you hit save in Quora.
  5. Use the GA campaign link tool so you can identify traffic from that article link.
  6. All Quora links are nofollow but real people will click on them – so they give you customers instead of immediate SERP rank juice.
  7. Tick the box to follow the answers and get alerted when someone else joins the thread so you can come back in later if you need.

Now what’s stopping you?

 

Oh, and if you came here from Manaaki – welcome. You’re following exactly the technique I recommend for use on Quora.

And you can use this technique on other forums relevant to your niche. I have three which send me traffic and build my profile as an expert in new business development.

How to Successfully Market Your Website

How to Successfully Market Your Website

Digital marketing is very finicky. You are not just contending with customers; you have impartial algorithms to contest with, the attention market, your competitors, technological glitches, and so much more. Knowing how to successfully market your website means more than simply knowing the basics. Yes, email newsletters help. Yes, social media marketing is an option. Knowing how to successfully implement these tactics is the real challenge, and to help you overcome the common hurdles of these marketing hurdles we have put together a great beginner’s list to guide you: 

Improve the Quality of Your Website 

The first step to successfully marketing your website is to improve your website. All marketing efforts will be wasted if you do not improve it. Consider this – if you have a treasure map, and went through the effort of following it, how would you feel if you turned up to an empty field or a busted down house? Your customers follow a similar path to your website. Sometimes it is direct, other times it takes several attempts to get them to your site, but if your site is not worthwhile, they will leave immediately. 

Example: A Slow Website 

If your website is slow, then all the marketing efforts in the world will be a waste of money. That is why one of the first steps you should take is to switch to Krystal, which offers 300% faster speeds than most other competitors. 

Improve Your Social Media Approach 

To improve your social media approach, you need to understand how each platform works. Optimizing a post is standard practice, but you will want to go beyond and see how your competitors have succeeded or failed. Once you have that information, work on creating an account that provides users with the experience they are looking for in a company such as yours. 

Example: A Technical Social Media Account

Take a company that offers technical service, like computer repairs. How can you possibly market such a company on a social media site like Instagram? What if you were an accountant? 

The answer is to provide information. Create simple yet well-designed text posts. Be unique with your photography – a computer repair company has plenty of interesting textures you could photograph, for example. Try to be a source of information so that people follow you to get tips and tricks daily.  Collaboration and PR is one of the best ways to market your company, as it gets your name out there and brings in high-quality inbound links. 

Example: Collaborating With Another Business

To collaborate with another business, you will want to first see if there are any opportunities in your business model. If you sell high-quality phone cases, for example, partner with local artists that have a healthy, dedicated, and real community of their own. They create phone case designs for you, you give them a healthy chunk of the profits (after costs), and in turn, their fans know about you, buy from you, and then go on and advertise your product to their friends and family. 

There are so many ways you can improve your marketing efforts, and hopefully, with these examples, you have a more concrete idea of how you can grow your community and reach. 

Adoption curves for MarTech

This past week has seen a “Sweeper Wave” of coinciding reading and researches which tell me one new thing – podcasting for business content marketing is now going mainstream.

First let me explain the sweeper waves – I was on holiday on the Coromandel Coast and a sea swell off the west coast caused occasionally huge waves to come right up the beach nearly to the high tide mark – even when the tide was half out.  These had large volumes of water inside them and so had great forward momentum and a strong undertow when they receded.  While I watched, people paddling knee deep got caught off guard and swept off their feet and the wave also soaked their clothes higher up the beach – one lady broke her hip being tumbled by the wave and the air ambulance was called out.

podcast studio, auckland podcast, podcast for business, NZ podcasts

I reflected on the sweeper waves and see them as a metaphor for change in marketing and business.

Hemingway’s insight into change (or bankruptcy) is that it happens slowly and then all at once.  They key is knowing whether what you are seeing is at the early-adopter or just-going-mainstream stage.  I have followed the rise of electric vehicles assiduously since watching Tony Seba’s illustration of Fifth Avenue, New York.  These two photos are taken 13 years apart.  What happened in between?  Change.  Disruption.

[Side note, Tony is an investor in New Zealand startups]

Like a sweeper wave, some people get caught unawares.  My attempt to avoid this is to watch out for “recurring themes” in tech, marketing, and business.  The rest of this article is about my recent finds.  Some connect, others are remarkable for different reasons.  

I’ve been podcasting since 2013 and during the latter part of 2018 I saw major brands using the medium for their content marketing – McKinsey, The Economist Intelligence Unit and CapGemini.  This tells me that content marketing is expanding into the audio medium.  There are advantages and disadvantages to this.  Few brands have enough to say that doesn’t involve their competitors (which they are probably unwilling to discuss in public forum) compared to independent commentators who can speak more freely.  And this fact alone will deter many brands from podcasting.  There are other opportunities for content marketing using audio which are less ’traditional’ than a weekly radio show which brands can usefully use.

My podcast interview with Bob Weir author of “Why Businesses Fail” was published by Access Granted NZ.  His book is a must-read for founders, investors and board members for the insights into the human psyche and how it contributes to business. Business failures are usually preceded by identifiable problems.  Analysing problems at the macro level was an observation which led to me writing Problem Solving for Marketing. The insight connecting these is that correctly identifying the type of problem first, aides finding the right solution.  Is your business situation a “mess”; a “problem”; or a “puzzle”?

If you use email marketing and CRM in your business, here is a very nicely written summary of how one startup uses funnels, lead nurturing, and incorporating Net Promotor Score too.  I don’t know the team but they are a young venture and so starting from scratch has advantages.  A word of warning; anecdotally, Active Campaign is said to be less user-friendly than other comparable software.  [If you want to compare software user views, always check out Trust Radius run by Vinay Baghat – it’s independent and user-led.] 

And although this case study looks amazing, very few brands that I meet use automation, business process flows or sales funnels to this extent.  How does this reflect on the adoption curve for CRM, which I was working on with Peppers and Rogers back in 1997?  Maybe some firms will never use marketing automation or sales lead scoring.

Writing a presentation for the Penrose Business Association brought me to confront my lack of skill using traditional presentation software.  I have found two alternatives Beautiful and Stun, one American and the other Kiwi.  

Finally – the joke’s on you for the Mars Rover whose batteries may have died after 15 years – Brendan Boughan’s Cartoons by Jim captures it perfectly. and flashes back to 1997 when we first got Mars fever and the creatives at HP had a similar vibe going.  One of my favourite laugh-out-loud adverts of the time.

Digital Channels for Sponsorship

Getting digital marketing sponsorship right is a challenge.  Activations using digital channels depend on robust messaging strategies and careful persona creation.  In this presentation we have a case study from Air New Zealand and Akzo Nobel Volvo Ocean Race which you can adapt to your needs.

Rebecca was speaking on the topic of digital channels for sponsorship at the Conferenz Sponsorship Summit and NZ Marketing Summit joint event.  Here are the slides and a video of my keynote.

 

Thanks to Lana Mihelcic who kindly shot the video for me.  Connect with her if you want a dynamic sports event manager or have contacts in sailing and The Americas Cup.

Kiwibank, this is how I’d re-write your email

Kiwibank email text confuses

Kiwibank email text confuses

And I made a fool of myself on LinkedIn by explaining how I totally mis-understood Mark Wilkshire’s message.

Re-write to clarify the message

Here is how I would re-write the email in order to prevent others doing what I did.  [Aside: surely I’m not the most stupid customer Kiwibank has…please, humour me!]

Dear Rebecca

You have a Notice Saver bank account with Kiwibank.  The interest payments for this account come from our PIE Unit Trust.  The money you save in your account is invested in the fund and profits are paid back to you in the form of interest.

As an investor in this fund, we are obliged to share its recent financial performance with you. You can view an electronic copy of the financial statements for the year ended 30th June 2017 on our website via this link.  

[insert rest of the statutory text here].

Lots of love, Mark Wilkshire, Kiwibank

Why is this clearer?

I think this text improves the context for receiving the message.  It explains an investment I didn’t know I had and how the investment performance is relevant to my personal situation (bank interest).

Personally, I wouldn’t try to push out messages about other investments in this message.  Make it simply about this one thing, and how to contact us.

The full truth about what I did on Kiwibank

And, I would anticipate possible confusion among customers by enabling self-help tools on the website to be advance programmed to have answers to questions relating to this investment.

My “Kiwibot” experience below reveals more about the lack of customer orientation and more about the regulatory communication box-ticking which probably sits behind this email misunderstanding.

Kiwibank Bot does not answer questions

Kiwibank Bot does not answer questions

 

 

Why the HELL NOT?

Ranking Factors 2017 report from SEMRush

What’s new in SEO? 5 actions to do today

Last week I got the latest research on SEO from trusted brand SEM Rush.  You can download and read their report Ranking Factors 2017 in SEO.

Ranking Factors 2017 report from SEMRush

Ranking Factors 2017 report from SEMRush

Creative Agency Secrets has read the whole report and below are 5 SEO tasks you can initiate immediately for your own website or ecommerce store.

The report has a number of chapters each of which is followed by “What this means to you as a marketer”  Read these pages for the SEMRush interpretation of their research findings.

5 SEO actions for 2017

  1. Check you have a secure (https) website.  Get a SSL Certificate installed if your url begins http://. See Secure websites below
  2. Find websites which can link back to you.  Clients, Suppliers, News / Magazines, Directories.  See Referring Domains below
  3. Get ideas for your SEO and your content creation from Answer the Public research tool
  4. Use more keywords on your “cornerstone” content pages.  See Keywords below.
  5. Plan the visitor pathway through your site especially with a view to reducing bounce rate.

The Detailed insights

Note these are paraphrased from the SEMRush report including some verbatim quotes.  All the ACTION FOR YOU tasks are recommendations by us for your website or ecommerce store. The page numbers are the actual page number in the report NOT the number top RHS.

If you want help, Creative Agency Secrets offers 2 services – we can do it for you; we can teach you how to do it yourself.

  1. Secure websites – page 6.  The higher the page position in search, the higher the keyword search volume most sites are secure https domains.  We interpret this that websites with SSL are trusted and are gaining over plain www and http sites.
  2. Referring domains – page 10. The pages that rank higher have more backlinks from unique domains. Websites that appear on SERPs for high-volume keywords have significantly more backlinks than ones that appear for low-volume keywords — almost 10 times more.  ACTION FOR YOU the competition for high-volume keywords is vicious, and those websites are invincible. But for low-volume keywords the competition is not so tough, so some link building could bring tremendous results.
  3. Content length – page 18. What we saw first was that there is generally more content on the pages that rank higher for all search volume intervals.  There is more content on the pages with long-tail keywords than on those with short-head keywords. ACTION FOR YOU  pick your “cornerstone” content pages and work them HARD for SEO goodness.  Content length is important for your page’s success as long as it is valuable, well-written, and optimised, especially if you target high volume keywords.
  4. Keywords – page 23.  In the high volume keyword group. the majority of the pages add a keyword to their title, meta and body copy but the occurrence of the keyword in the meta description does not influence the page rankings. Pages that rank for long-tail keywords repeat those keywords less often than pages that rank for short-head keywords. The pages on the first positions (for both longtails and short-heads) have noticeably more keywords than all other pages. ACTION FOR YOU If you plan to rank by long tail keywords, having an exact-match keyword in your on-page SEO elements is not crucial. In fact, it is more important to diversify the semantic core of your text and make it relevant to the target keyword rather than copying it.  The presence of a video didn’t show a significant influence on page rankings, so we came to the conclusion that video itself is not a silver bullet. However, in certain niches clients expect video content, so it makes sense to provide it. Consider your audience’s demands, and if they include visual support, use video.
  5. Volume of visitors – page 33.  Not a strong correlation to page rank here especially if your search phrases are low(er) volume searches. For the low-volume keyword group, the trend is flat, indicating that a page’s position does not strongly correlate with its number of total monthly visits. For high-volume popular keywords, the number of page visits gets noticeably smaller for sites that rank below the 12th position. ACTION FOR YOU this means organic search is not the only thing you should be concentrating on. Drive a strong traffic from direct and social media linked visits by pushing brand awareness on these platforms and also through newsletters.
  6. Bounce Rate – page 37.  The higher a page’s position is, the lower its bounce rate.  The user navigates through three to three-and-a-half pages per website, per visit. As your site moves towards the top of the SERP, there are more pages per session for every domain. ACTION FOR YOU firstly ensure you have strong internal page linking.  Think about what you want the visitor to do next on every page.  Connect with Cornerstone content discussed above.  Also analyse your rivals (How to compare my site to a competitor’s) Inside Google Analytics, check your queries performance and lastly, find low ranking pages for Bounce and improve them to reduce bounce rate and page rank.

 

Marketing offer, SEMRush, creative agency secrets,

SEMRush custom offer at the end of the report

And a cunning end-point which is a marketing “trick” I’ve used a lot for clients – on the very, very last page is an offer.  A really good one.  SEMRush will do a niche study for your industry if you write to ask.  We did (for a client) and they said they’d been overwhelmed and would put it on the list…. but still.  This is a fabulous reward for the people who do read all the way to the end.  #TopTip

Ready to rock with some improvements on your business SEO?  Let’s get started together!

Referral marketing illustration

Case Study: Three ways to increase referrals

Working with a client who makes animated explainer videos – Case Study of how to grow referrals.  We discuss three ways they can get more referral business.

Referral marketing illustration

Image by NWeSource

1.  Innovations in your specialism

Every market changes over time – fads pass, new ideas surface.  So write about what’s happening in your market.  Consider writing about styles, techniques, innovations to be added onto an explainer video (if that’s your business).  So which new styles are coming about?  Where did each one come from – background and timeline of the evolution.

In the writing analyse the change, what are the component parts, which elements stand out.   You could add in new uses for explainer videos – for example in a PitchPack video brochure.

The goal:

  • Give the reader the education and tools to make an analysis themselves of whether their archive of explainer videos is getting dated
  • Show your opinion as a market leader on what’s good, what’s new and what’s to be avoided
  • Create content which you can share with past clients and encourage them to update their videos and re-buy from you.  [This is referring back to prior clients, not new ones.]

2.  Create a Call list

You need to speak to people if you sell in Business to Business (B2B).  The best way to start a dialogue is with Open Questions.  These encourage a longer response from the other person and give you insight into their views on a topic.  Any insight enables you to position your services as a solution to issues they raise.

Here’s an example of a call prompt (not really a script).

“Hello, Rebecca.  I sent you our article about new styles in explainer videos.  I just wanted to get your opinion on it.  What did you think?”

Can you imagine how the call will develop into a discussion?  

Yes, so can I.

Whether you get a new job immediately or not, you stand a good chance of doing some good things

  • Checking your contact database is still current – add new names in if you can
  • Finding out the current situation in the client business with regard to your service offering
  • Reminding them that you exist and have been trusted with work in the past
  • Updating your CRM with lead status (cold, warm, hot)
  • Possibly opening new opportunities for new business.

Create this call list from a list of all your clients from the past 3 years (more if you’ve been in business longer).  Also add to the list from your Linked In connections and those from your co-workers.  Goal to have 100 people on the list to call.

Plan on making 3 calls per week, per person in your team.  Yes, new business development requires discipline and is hard.   We can teach you how…

3.  Getting Referrals

Start to build a referral marketing engine into your daily project work as well.  We find what works best is to connect with them early in the project.

Start with a “Happy call” when you ring asking for feedback on how the job is going.

Then build on this with a similar call just after the project has been delivered.  Remind them of what they said on the earlier call.  This is the moment to ask for a testimonial for the project team.

After getting this, I usually wrap up by asking

Do you know anyone else who might like to meet us? 

My goal is to get two names of people as an introduction.  My big tip to make this successful is to ask the question and then to stay silent until the other person has come up with a name…. stay silent as they “ummm” and say “maybe”, “well”,  “I’m not sure” and still stay silent and they will 80% of the time come up with a name.  If they firmly say no, you can prompt with – maybe a co-worker in a different team or maybe someone from your previous job and see if that can deliver a name.

How to use the introduction….. write an email to BOTH people.   This is my template email that works.

Subject: NAME OF THE INTRODUCER

Hi Alex,

Our AGENCY NAME has just completed a job for INTRODUCER and s/he suggested you as someone who might like to get to know us.

We completed an explainer video (link) for INTRODUCER.

I took a look at your website and [something helpful here which they can use immediately].

Looking forward to connecting.

Lots of love from Rebecca (only joking… use an appropriate sign off).

I always cc the introducer in this message so they know what I said.

In the email you could tell them about the customer satisfaction scores or Net Promoter Score which your team has acquired over time. Or link to TrustPilot Reviews or your Google My Business Review score.

The follow up call is just a friendly get to know you call. No selling.  But if you feel it’s gone well you can follow up with an email linking to a helpful resource from your website.  Here’s one I use frequently.

By the way, I found your website copyright is out of date (2012), here’s an article we wrote which explains how to add code to your website so this updates automatically every 1st January.  Just send this link to your web developers and tell them to make the change – do it once, and it’ll run forever

This is an example of the type of helpful marketing tips which Creative Agency Secrets writes in our newsletter and blog.  We want to enable you to buy web services as an informed consumer (and we don’t build websites, we help our clients to use them actively to win new client business).

Cute eh?

Then you have to put them onto a stay-in-touch programme or ask if they will allow you to stay in touch with a newsletter subscription.  Either way, one call won’t win you business but a dedicated process to provide utility (usefulness) to them, will ensure you are remembered and they take your calls in future.